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Emmas Law

Emma’s Law – What Impact Has It Had on SC DUI Law?

In 2014, South Carolina passed Emma’s Law, a comprehensive new SC driving under the influence (DUI) law that was our state’s latest effort to “get tough” on drunk drivers.

What is Emma’s Law? And what impact has it had on DUIs in Myrtle Beach and Horry County?

Has Emma’s Law decreased the number of drunk drivers in SC? Has it made the penalties for DUI convictions more severe?

What is Emma’s Law?

The first thing to note about Emma’s Law is that any law that has a person’s name attached to is likely to be excessive.

“Named” laws tend to be the ones that craft a solution for the most egregious, horrible tragedies and attempt to apply that solution across the board.

Emma’s Law is no exception. It is named after a 6-year-old girl named Emma Longstreet who was killed by a drunk driver on New Year’s Day in 2012, on a Sunday, as she was on her way to church with her family.

Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) in SC

Although Emma’s Law is a comprehensive and lengthy piece of legislation, it is best known for its requirement that convicted DUI offenders install ignition interlock devices (IIDs) on their vehicles.

An IID is a device that makes you blow into a breathalyzer before you can start the engine – if there is alcohol on the breath, the car doesn’t start.

Emma’s Law includes requirements for IIDs for people convicted of DUI, even first-offense DUIs in some cases. It also contains IID requirements for some defendants based on their breathalyzer results even if they are not convicted of the DUI.

A person who is convicted of second-offense DUI or DUAC in SC can be required to install an IID on their vehicle for as long as two years. The probation department monitors the IIDs, and Emma’s Law authorizes them to take the driver back to court if they do not comply with the IID requirements.

How Effective is Emma’s Law in SC?

Not very, according to MADD. The organization has just released a report complaining that Emma’s Law is being sabotaged by the (ordinary) process of plea-bargaining. “’Getting out of the Ignition Interlock Device requirement is the new bargaining chip in DUI pleas,’ the MADD study says.”

According to MADD, plea bargains are “’worked out ‘in the back’ and the final decisions are not even announced in open court,” a statement which is partially true.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that getting out of the ignition interlock requirement is not the bargaining chip in most DUI pleas – getting out of the DUI is the goal for most defendants.

And, although it is true that most plea bargains are “worked out in the back,” every guilty plea to DUI is on the record in front of a judge. The defendant will waive their constitutional rights on the record, the prosecutor will read from the incident report so that there are sufficient facts on the record to support the plea, and the judge will announce the sentence on the record.

Myrtle Beach DUI Defense Lawyers

Your SC DUI defense attorneys at the Lovely Law Firm will help you to get your DUI charges dismissed, to find the best possible outcome, or to try your case to a jury. We understand what you have to lose if you are convicted of DUI, and we have many years of experience helping clients who are charged with DUI in SC.

Call us now at (843) 839-4111 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation.


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